Author(s): Westerdahl E, Olsn MF
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Various chest physiotherapy techniques are recommended after cardiac surgery around the world. There is limited published data on what breathing exercises actually are recommended to patients after surgery in Europe. The aim of this national survey was to establish the current practice of chest physiotherapy and breathing exercises for adult patients following cardiac surgery in Sweden. METHODS: A postal questionnaire was sent to a total population sample of 33 Swedish physiotherapists working at the departments of cardiothoracic surgery in December 2007 and January 2008. RESULTS: In total, 29 replies (88\%) were received. Seven male and twenty two female physiotherapists completed the questionnaire. All physiotherapists instructed, on a regular basis, the cardiac surgery patients to perform post-operative breathing exercises. Positive expiratory pressure (PEP) breathing was routinely used as the first choice for treatment by 22 (83\%) of the physiotherapists. Expiratory pressures used varied between 2 and 20 cm H2O. Recommended frequency and duration of the exercises varied from 4 to 30 breaths hourly during the daytime in the first post-operative days. All physiotherapists provided coughing support to the patients. Recommendations to continue breathing exercises after discharge varied from not at all up to 3 months after surgery. CONCLUSIONS: Breathing exercises are regularly prescribed during the initial post-operative days after cardiac surgery in Sweden. Hourly deep breathing exercises performed with or without a PEP device were reported to be first choice treatments during the hospital stay. Instructions concerning how long patients should continue the exercises after discharge varied notably.
This article was published in Monaldi Arch Chest Dis
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology